Article Text

Download PDFPDF
The psychosocial and health effects of workplace reorganisation. 2. A systematic review of task restructuring interventions
  1. Clare Bambra1,
  2. Matt Egan2,
  3. Sian Thomas2,
  4. Mark Petticrew2,
  5. Margaret Whitehead3
  1. 1
    Centre for Public Policy and Health, Wolfson Research Institute, Durham University
  2. 2
    Medical Research Council Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, University of Glasgow
  3. 3
    Division of Public Health, University of Liverpool
  1. Clare Bambra, Centre for Public Policy and Health, Wolfson Research Institute, Durham University Queen’s Campus, Stockton on Tees TS17 6BH, UK; clare.bambra{at}


Objective: To systematically review the health and psychosocial effects (with reference to the demand–control–support model) of changes to the work environment brought about by task structure work reorganisation, and to determine whether those effects differ for different socioeconomic groups.

Design: Systematic review (QUORUM) of experimental and quasi-experimental studies (any language) reporting health and psychosocial effects of such interventions.

Data sources: Seventeen electronic databases (medical, social science and economic), bibliographies and expert contacts.

Results: Nineteen studies were reviewed. Some task-restructuring interventions failed to alter the psychosocial work environment significantly, and so could not be expected to have a measurable effect on health. Those that increased demand and decreased control tended to have an adverse effect on health, while those that decreased demand and increased control resulted in improved health, although some effects were minimal. Increases in workplace support did not appear to mediate this relationship.

Conclusion: This systematic review suggests that task-restructuring interventions that increase demand or decrease control adversely affect the health of employees, in line with observational research. It lends support to policy initiatives such as the recently enforced EU directive on participation at work, which aims to increase job control and autonomy.

  • systematic review
  • health inequalities
  • psychosocial work environment

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Sources of support: Economic and Social Research Council and the Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Executive Health Department.

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Ethics approval was not required for this literature review.

Linked Articles

  • In this issue
    Carlos Alvarez-Dardet John Ashton